In Peter Weir’s thought provoking-film The Truman Show the viewer is enticed by the utopian Seahaven. Cinematography such as camera angles, music, lighting, editing and other techniques promote and reinforce the film’s central issues. Delving into the vehement desire of the human spirit to be free and the cunning manipulation of the media, the viewer is left exhilarated. Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), the protagonist, after living a sheltered life in Seahaven is struck by an epiphany. Realizing that his world is contrived he undergoes a treacherous journey in pursuit of truth and freedom. Truman’s choice to enter the real world rather than to continue living his perfect existence proves that the human spirit requires exposure to challenge and change in order to thrive and evolve.
The film begins with a close-up shot of Truman Burbank staring at himself in the mirror deliberating whether he will conquer a perilous journey. This focus on the protagonist highlights an evident yearning for freedom and his conclusion that he will succeed “broken legs and all” shows his determination to break free from his shackled existence. In a medium close up shot Meryl (Laura Linney), Truman’s wife, is discussing her role in the television phenomenon -The Truman Show. Her words: “Well for me there is no difference between a private life and a public life. My life is The Truman Show. The Truman Show is a lifestyle”- encompass the concept that television does not merely entertain but rather dominates the lives of millions. Moreover, the suggestion that mankind thrives on entertainment gives the media the ability to exploit emotion. Marlon (Noah Emmerich) states that the show is not fake but is merely controlled. A constantly controlled life certainly stunts Truman Burbank’s emotional growth but the strength of his spirit to be free ultimately overpowers this restriction. It is now the 10,909th episode of The Truman Show. Truman walks out of his home and is framed by two doorposts on either side and in front by a fence already indicating the control over his life. The elliptical matte surrounding the screen indicates that he is being filmed through a hidden camera. Truman is shown in a medium long shot greeting his neighbours with his customary catch phrase, “Good Morning, O and in case I don’t see you, Good afternoon, Good evening and Goodnight.” Seahaven appears to be the ideal neighbourhood: friendly neighbours, sunny skies, white picket fences and a safe environment. Evidently the life lead is simplistic, moralistic and family orientated. Such perfection is ideal; however the viewer could speculate whether the happy-go-lucky Truman is truly satisfied or his attitude is just a charade. A tracking shot is now used to introduce a foreign object falling from the sky. A panning shot is followed by a long shot in which Truman rushes to examine the object. There a close up shot of a framed Truman examining the first indication that his world may be contrived. Truman’s tedious routine, accompanied by jubilant music, involves framing shots as he purchases a newspaper and magazine and the use of hidden cameras as he sits in his car listening to the radio and works in his office. While Truman greets the two “doppelgangers” zoom is used to focus on the Kaiser Free Range Chicken Poster as a means of product placement. Truman’s secretive call enquiring about Fiji is indicative that he yearns to travel rather than be trapped in the predictable Seahaven. The presentation of a newspaper by a co-worker claiming Seahaven to be “Best Place on Earth” is an immediate attempt to crush his aspirations and curious explorative nature. The extreme close up used when the directory fails to provide Truman with a listing conveys his disappointment in enquiring about his true love interest Sylvia Lauren (Natascha McElhone). Furthermore a collage creating an image of Sylvia Lauren is symbolic of his ongoing fascination with her. A tense atmosphere is created by cross...
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